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“Everything revolves around the herring”: The Heiltsuk-herring relationship through time

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Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), a cultural keystone species, are a critical part of the social-ecological systems of British Columbia’s central coast. For millennia, Heiltsuk First Nation has depended on this forage fish for food, social, ceremonial, and economic purposes. My research, nested within the coast-wide “Herring School” initiative, documents the components of Heiltsuk First Nation’s relationship with Pacific herring and how this relationship has changed over time. Results identify (1) how Heiltsuk social institutions, local and traditional ecological knowledge, and worldview (Gvi’ilas) have informed herring management strategies from pre-contact times until present, and (2) how changes in state-led herring management and other social and institutional developments in BC have affected the role and transmission of Heiltsuk local knowledge and management strategies over time.
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